Best Private Golf Course (Open to the Public) 2021 | The Golf Club at Fox Acres | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

We regular folk weren't always allowed to play Fox Acres — the course was for members only until 2015 — but we all kissed our drivers when it opened to the public. With hole names like Moose Crossing, Sleeping Elephants, Black Bear and Fox Den, as well as fifteen lakes and over a hundred sand traps, this course in Red Feather Lakes is long on high-country appeal and challenges — but smoking one down the middle of a rolling green in the crisp northern Colorado air makes all those lost balls worthwhile. Revel in your +25 score and the beautiful views at a brewery in Fort Collins on the way home, and don't forget your windbreaker, just in case.

1700 County Road 67J, Red Feather Lakes

Golf is a sport that requires skill in the short, medium and long games, and Family Sports is the place to practice all three. It boasts a double-floor driving range that is both heated and fully lighted, so golfers can practice into the late evening hours, in the winter. The $5 starting price for a bucket of balls is a bargain, while the generous practice facility next to the driving range includes chipping areas, putting greens and even sand traps. It all adds up to unbelievable value. Fore!

With many other sporting options shut down, the popularity of disc golf soared over the past year. And while the region offers plenty of challenging courses for advanced players, few spots are as good for noobs as the Johnny Roberts Disc Golf Course at Memorial Park in Arvada. Although most of the tees are beginner-friendly and relatively short, there are still trees and water obstacles. It's a great spot to practice your putt or introduce newcomers to the sport. Just be prepared to socialize: This course can get crowded.

8001 West 59th Avenue, Arvada
City of Westminster

The 420-acre Westminster Hills Dog Park is a glorious oasis from the ever-rising drama plaguing smaller dog parks. With so much space and plenty of trails, you can hike the hills as Fido roams far from bullying dogs — but there are also opportunities to make new friends of both the two- and four-legged variety. In recent years, parking has become an issue, but between two lots — one at 10499 Simms Street and another at 11610 West 100th Avenue — you can usually find a spot. Once you snag one, both you and your dog can have an unparalleled adventure in an otherworldly landscape.
Brandon Marshall

Across the South Platte River from Overland Park Golf Course, Ruby Hill Park offers plenty of crowd-pleasing amenities: Levitt Pavilion, a sprawling outdoor concert venue that puts on fifty free shows each year; a bike park where mountain and dirt bikers can practice their skills; a baseball field; picnic areas; and some of the best sledding in town. Despite all that, the sprawling grounds, with stunning panoramas of downtown Denver, also have room for reflection and solitude. Pick a spot in the bright-green grass and lie down, look up at the sky or out over the skyline, and experience peace in the middle of metro Denver.

Are you and your kids hoping to bump into families for an impromptu play date? Or are you looking for love? A jogging buddy? A football or Frisbee game? Something a little more risqué? Maybe even a ghost to chat with? No matter what kind of company you're looking for, you're bound to find it at Cheesman Park. (Yes, even ghosts. The park was built on the former Mount Prospect Cemetery.) Between picnickers at the pavilion, roughhousers on the playground, and runners and bikers circumnavigating the park on the trail, Cheesman is your destination for free community fun.

Bristlecone offers an encouraging environment for people who want to learn more about firearms but aren't draped in a "Don't Tread on Me" flag (though those people would probably be welcomed, too). Owned by husband-wife duo Bryan and Jacquelyn Clark, the shop offers affordable ammo and firearms to rent and buy, multiple ranges and a virtual-reality shooting and training simulator. Unlike most spots, when the ammo shortage of 2020-2021 hit, Bristlecone didn't jack up its prices; it's also known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly ranges in town. Bristlecone has instructors who are well trained, sensible and friendly, teaching classes in self-defense as well as shotgun, rifle and pistol training, with special attention to the importance of addressing mental health issues and gun safety.

Love blasting things out of the sky? Whether you're interested in sporting clays, skeet or trap, Colorado Clays Shooting Park, on the outskirts of north Denver, is a must-visit destination for shotgun enthusiasts. But the park, which sports a variety of classes and even party packages, also has offerings for rifle and pistol shooters. There are classes for beginners through masters, as well as some targeting women and youth. Don't have the gear to shoot? No worries: You can rent a gun and buy ammo and eye/ear protection on site.

Urban hikes have a reputation for being short, one-day jaunts around a park. Not so with the historic High Line Canal trail, which ventures through eleven municipalities, starting in Waterton Canyon in Douglas County and continuing for 71 miles to Green Valley Ranch in northeast Denver. Coursing alongside cottonwood banks, the trail takes hikers through parks, golf courses, cemeteries and more. And although more than 500,000 people use the trail each year and roughly 350,000 people live within a mile of it, there are plenty of spots where city hikers can find a bit of much-needed solitude.

A stone's throw from Denver, the first segment of the Colorado Trail takes you up a semi-accessible dirt road from Littleton into Waterton Canyon and on to the epic, 200-some-feet-high Strontia Springs Dam. The scenery here turns spectacular fast. Although the wide trail — which doubles as a road for Denver Water — is often packed with mountain bikers and hikers, dogs aren't allowed. But the throngs trekking into the canyon for the relatively easy walk (800 feet of elevation gain over 12.4 miles out and back) share the corridor with deer, Bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears and golden eagles.

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